Traction pads or “stomp pads” add extra grip to your surfboard. Stomp pads became a popular alternative to wax in the 1980s and are a great option for surfers who feel like they need a little more grip and control.
The question is, do you need one on your board, what are the benefits, and are there any negatives you should know about?
Types of Traction Pads
Traction pads come in a variety of shapes, styles, colors, and sizes, giving you plenty of options. The two main categories concern the placement of the pad: Tail Pads and Deck Pads. The former is installed on the tail of the surfboard and give your back foot some extra grip and support; the latter is installed on the deck and help your front foot.
Tail pads are by far the most common.
Other things to consider include:
The Material: Stomp pads are made from a variety of materials and, in recent years, there has been a shift toward eco-friendly options. You need something that is water-resistant and has plenty of grip. As for the actual material, it’s all down to you.
The Pattern: The grooves or patterns cut into the traction pad are designed to provide extra grip. There are a few different styles to look out for, all concerning the shape and placement of the stomp pad.
The Size: How much area does your traction pad need to cover? Bigger boards need bigger pads, so this is always an important consideration.
Color: Although it doesn’t impact the performance; the color is still incredibly important as you want your board to look good! The question is, do you want it to stand out or blend in?
Pros of Stomp Pads
There are a number of reasons you might want to consider adding a traction pad to your surfboard:
Pros: They Provide Extra Grip
You can get some amazing grip with a traction pad and this provides a massive help when you’re tackling those waves. It also helps with foot placement, as you’ll be able to feel the pad under your foot and will know exactly where to place it.
Pros: They are Easy to Install
The hardest part of installing a stomp pad is removing all of the wax. It’s just like placing a giant sticker on your board and can be completed in a few quick and simple steps.
Pros: They Protect Your Board
A stomp pad could prolong the life of your board by placing less stress on the tail and protecting it against the scrapes, dents, and pressure that is constantly applied to that area of the board.
Pros: They Make it Easier to Duck Dive
Duck diving is much easier with a traction pad, giving you the extra force and drive that you need to perform this move.
Pros: They are Cheap
Not only are traction pads relatively inexpensive, but you will also save a lot of money on wax. A pad lasts much longer and once it has been installed, you don’t need to keep applying and re-applying it as you do with wax.
Do You Need a Stomp Pad?
Now that we’ve looked at the benefits of stomp pads, just one question remains: Do you even need a stomp pad?
It really depends on you and your board. Traction pads are very helpful on Shortboards, where foot placement is important. When you’ll pulling off all those tricks, you can immediately return your foot to the right position and that’s a huge help.
It’s rare to see them on Longboards, as they’re usually not necessary, but if you find that it helps you, go for it. It’s all about making things more comfortable and easier while improving performance. If you think that a traction pad will do that for you, install one.
They are fairly easy to remove, so if you find that you don’t like the pad, just get rid of it!